“You’re looking at a woman who was publicly silent for a decade,” said Monica Lewinsky in a recent TED talk.
But Lewinsky, 41, who became the most infamous White House intern after an “inappropriate relationship” with President Clinton, has slowly been breaking that silence over the last year, culminating in a TED talk last week that’s gone viral.
Lewinsky holds a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics (she’s also a fan of meditating)—and is using her personal battles with public shaming to advocate against—and hopefully help end—cyber bullying.
The cause is close to her heart. “Overnight I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide,” she says. “I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously
What can you learn from a woman who practically has a PhD in dealing with haters? Here are our three favorite pieces of inspiration from her TED talk.
1. You can overcome your mistakes. Lewinsky asked, “Can I see a show of hands of anyone here who didn’t make a mistake they regretted at the age of 22?” And the not-so-surprising reaction was that not one hand was raised.
The exercise proved that no matter what regrets you have in your past—or any backlash you might have gotten from them—Lewinsky is a perfect example that they don’t have to define you in the future.
2. Speak with intention. We’ve all been there: you’re having a bad day and feel like snapping at someone, or leaving a snarky Instagram comment as a release. As tough as it is, Lewinsky says, it’s better to fight it.
“We all want to be heard, but let’s acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention,” she says.
3. You have to be your own best friend. Whether you’re being cyber bullied or just beating yourself up for no reason, “you can insist on a different ending to your story,” said Lewinsky. “Have compassion for yourself.” Amen to that. —Molly Gallagher
(Photo: TED via theguardian.com)